Hit Nostrana for lunch today. Much less crowded. Not even half full. The waitress we had was adept and friendly. (My dining companion thought she was flirting with him, but I assured him she was just doing the tips for tips. I proved it when later she came up from behind and subtly stroked my arm to get my attention.) They had a separate person walking around filling water glasses and mine never got below half full. Definitely more attentive than my dinner experiences.
We had three dishes between us: the pasta e fagiole, a cranberry bean and maltagliata pasta with pancetta ($6.50); the funghi pizza, with black trumpets, house-made pancetta, and fontina val d'aosta ($13); and the salsicce pizza, spicy sausage, smoked provolone, sauteed leeks, tomato and oregano ($13).
The soup was creamy and rich, though it needed a dash of salt and I added a little pepper, too. (They don't put s&p on the table, but if you ask for it they bring you a little saucer of Kosher salt and a pepper grinder.) With a little salt, the pleasant flavor came out. I thought the pasta was a bit overcooked, just a touch too soft. It was a huge portion, btw, and not just because they have a dish that's much wider than deep. It'd be nice if they offered free bread for this.
I liked the funghi pizza best (and too bad it wasn't mine). The trumpets had a lot of flavor and matched really well with the fontina. I don't know that the pancetta came out much, but I just got one piece. The crust was very nice, thin, crisp, charred here and there, puffed around the edges.
My "spicy" sausage pizza wasn't spicy at all. I didn't notice that it was supposed to be, but now that I look at the menu I'm very surprised. I remember thinking how sweet it was with the leeks. This pizza was a little smaller. I don't know if that was intentional. The crust was a little less cooked and more limp.
They warn you that you'll have to cut your own pizza. Since I'd had pizza before at Nostrana, I already knew. It may be traditional, but without some more explanation as to why this tradition should be maintained, I think it should be tossed. It's just too much of a pain. It's so much easier for them to cut it and I don't see any benefit from me doing so. Truly a minor annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless.
Overall, a good meal. I still think this is the second best pizza in town. For those who suffered bad service at dinner, perhaps try them for lunch when they're less taxed.
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